I've been baking a lot of muffins lately. Simple and satisfying. A mere handful of ingredients, a few quick strokes with a spatula, and a quick scoop into a muffin pan. (Note: Using an ice cream scoop or this muffin scoop is a serious game changer for baking. It might seem silly to get a utensil only for the purpose of portioning batter, but it makes your muffins uniform in size so they bake evenly. And it's so much faster and neater than using a spoon!)
Dust the tops liberally with sugar (and I do mean liberally as now is really not the time to be stingy about your sugar usage), and they emerge minutes later from the oven, domed and golden and with a crackly, sugared crust. Berries peek from the crevasses in the tops. I am an equal-opportunity muffin fan, but the famous blueberry muffin recipe from the now-closed Jordan Marsh department store is pretty fantastic. It's sweet but not overly so, and it has a wonderfully tender crumb. Sidebar: I know! I have become someone who says things like "tender crumb"! What the what! But what I mean by that is that the texture of the muffin is delicate and soft and nearly cake-like, but with a close-grain rather than the coarse appearance of something like a classic yellow cake.
Happily, these muffins work just as well with frozen berries as they do with fresh ones. You could also swap in another fruit, like diced peaches or raspberries or apple. An important recipe tip, as noted above, is to not go light on the sugar. The recipe calls for one entire teaspoon of sugar per muffin, and this will feel like way too much. However, the batter itself is not particularly sweet, so it all balances out in the end. Coating the tops fully with sugar before baking is the trick to getting such a nice crust on them.
While your muffins are in the oven, might I suggest reading one of the latest editions of the New Yorker's Shouts & Murmurs: this one or this one? Warning: Don't take a sip of anything right before reading either, as you'll likely end up laughing out loud and snorting kombucha all over yourself.
Famous Department Store Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for topping
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen will work
Preheat your oven to 375°F and line grease a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and 1 cup of the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each.
Add the baking powder, salt, vanilla, and flour, and mix for just a few moments until moistened (you can also just fold them in with a few strokes of a spatula). Add the milk, and then mix until the batter just comes together. Do not overmix!
Fold in the blueberries with a spatula, mashing a few slightly for a pretty streaked effect.
Scoop the batter into your pan, dividing it evenly between the 12 wells. Sprinkle a full teaspoon of the remaining sugar on the top of each muffin.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove, let cool slightly, then turn out of the pan and enjoy warm. They also freeze beautifully